Sixteen and nervous, I pretended to walk with purpose toward the piano. On the right and left of me, there are people who have various expressions on their faces: boredom, anticipation, and happiness. Most are parents who are eagerly awaiting their child to play their particular piece. Before I stood up, I looked to the side and remember my mom, mouthing, “You will do great. Good luck!”

Doubt filled my head. Although I practiced my piece a thousand times, I wasn’t convinced that I could offer a seamless performance. Almost a 100 people filled the aisle, my stomach grumbled and the imaginary metronome tick-tocked in my head. My piano teacher insisted that we memorize our pieces. Terrified, I took my place at the piano bench. Foot on pedal, hands cold as ice, I strike the first note of my very first recital piece, Columbine’s Lament.

At the beginning of the piece, my tempo is perfect and fingers separate at the right moment. No hesitation, but a gradual succession of the notes that follow the pattern that I memorized. Midway through the piece, it happens. I forget. The change in the piece shifts from melody to random notes that are divorced from one another. I pause. My piano teacher, with her bee-hive bun, bronze eye shadow, and manicured nails stared at me. In her head, I know she was thinking, “You have ruined my recital.”  With misguided conviction, I funnel through my performance. The notes aren’t making sense. Ending my embarassment, I release the foot off the pedal and stand. The crowd’s obligatory clapping does very little to comfort me. I take a seat with my parents and endure the next hour of accomplished pianists play compositions that are complicated in its arrangement.

Many years later, I carry this performance with me, like an internal badge. There was something I recognized years later from that recital day. The swift change between the notes, from the primary keys to the sharps and flats, indicated a change. Sometimes it resonated loudly, other times quiet, depending on the strength of how I maneuvered my hands on the keys. My confidence, fear, hesitation, failure, resolve all peeked during this performance. The change from one emotion to the other happened, even when I didn’t always fully realize what was happening. The entire bandwith of life, its changes, and how we react can be encompassed within one piano piece.

The change is sometimes clear, the sharps pierce a little more, the flats bellow, at times, louder. Just like life.


This piece is part of Momalom’s Five for Five Series. This is my response to the word, change.



Image by Milianodehorcana